Fixing America’s crummy food system will take more than nutrition labels | JP Sottile

Excuse me if I'm not excited about labels with larger fonts. Let's tell consumers about the real added ingredients in their foodIf we are what we eat and knowledge is power, then the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) newly-proposed nutrition labeling requirements can only be a good thing. Right?Wrong.The problem with the much-ballyhooed and thoroughly underwhelming changes to food labeling is that these modifications are not only minor and still subject to a long rulemaking process, but, on the issue of portion size, these proposals only affect 27 of the 157 product categories subject to portion rules. More directly, they do nothing to inform consumers about far more pressing issues troubling the industrial food system.Excuse me if I'm not excited about labels with larger fonts and minor changes. The big White House press event merely uses the appearance of incremental "progress" to forestall real, substantive changes to the one thing that unites us all: concern about the health and safety of the food we eat.These new rules are really just proposals. Even if they emerge unaltered after the "public comment" period and industry-influenced "rulemaking" phase, these labeling requirements are still a full two years away from implementation. Once that process is complete, the FDA and Big Food – represented in Washington by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) – will tout the new labels as an important cooperative accomplishment, when it's really just a shift in marketing and emphasis.Anticipating the sausage-making to come, the GMA said: We look forward to working with the FDA and other stakeholders as these proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts label make their way...

Michelle Obama’s food campaign shows her stomach for political fight

As her husband's presidency labours, the edginess of the big corporations shows the first lady is thriving in an activist roleTheir grumbling was sotto voce and neither lobbyist wanted to go on the record, but four years after Michelle Obama began her fight against America's obesity epidemic, her increasingly activist campaign is clearly beginning to get under the skin of the US food industry.The two corporate executives were sitting in the East Room of the White House watching the first lady unveil the most radical overhaul of nutritional labels in 20 years and could be overheard comparing two versions: one which emphasised even more than the other just how unhealthy processed food can be."What do you think?" asked the first exec, glumly. "We like one better than the other, that's for sure," replied the second, complaining that her company had received little advance warning of the proposed changes. "I am getting my head of regulation to run through it all now."The decision for Obama to front the new rules marks a rare venture into policy-making, but the first lady made clear she was not going to let the niceties of consultation periods and stakeholder dialogue stand in her way."I know there will be many opinions on what this label should look like, but I think that we all can agree that families deserve more and better information about the food they eat," she told the East Room audience."It's important to note that no matter what the final version looks like, the new label will allow you to immediately spot the calorie count because it will be in large font,...

How to make American pancakes | Back to basics

Beginners needn't be afraid of Pancake Day with these foolproof, flip-free American pancake recipes. What are you favourite toppings or pancake tips? Share your ideas below... I'm not a big fan of Pancake Day. When I was little, those thin, crepe-style pancakes – served with a sprinkling of caster sugar and an antiseptic squirt of Jif lemon juice – were considered the height of continental sophistication. But I always preferred the thicker, American-style pancake.The difference between the two is a raising agent. The British-style pancakes served on Shrove Tuesday don't use one, whereas the breakfast variety served in the US do – typically baking powder, or whipped egg white, or both.The Scottish argue that it was they who introduced the risen pancake (known north of the border as drop scones) to the Americas. I first encountered them, aged 18, in New Mexico, where they were served to me by a six-foot tall, gravel-voiced Southern beauty in a San Antonio (not that one) diner. Everything about the experience was new and thrilling. The pancakes came accompanied by "whipped butter" and a mysterious "maple-style" syrup and "bottomless" coffee, which the waitress flung into my cup from a glass pot with a practised jolt of her shoulder.I find these American-style pancakes almost unbearably exotic. Alongside their transatlantic glamour, they have another benefit for the nervous cook: there is no question of tossing them. Instead, these pancakes are definitely for turning. You don't need to feel you are wimping out by using a spatula.We've given you two recipes to choose from for this Tuesday. One for banana pancakes, which use mashed-up banana to make...

Gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free lime drizzle cake recipe | Just as tasty

A moist, zingy drizzle cake with no eggs, dairy or wheat flour – try it for yourself and marvel at the oven-based alchemyThis moist cake tastes sublime and has a crunchy lime icing, which sparkles like a winter frost – but there any similarity with conventional drizzle cake ends, because it contains no eggs, dairy or wheat flour. Try it for yourself and marvel at the alchemy that takes place inside the humble oven.Makes 8-10 slices100g dairy-free margarine150g caster sugar100g ground almonds100g polenta (maize meal)50g gluten-free plain flour blend1 tsp bicarbonate of soda1 tsp baking powder200g plain soya yoghurt2 unwaxed lemons1 tbsp cornflour1 lime25g granulated sugar1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease a 21cm x 11cm loaf tin with vegetable oil. In a mixing bowl, cream together the margarine and caster sugar. Now add the ground almonds, polenta, flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. On top of this lot, pour the yoghurt and the grated zest of one lemon. Whisk everything together.2 Juice the lemons. Spoon 2 tbsp juice into a cup and heat the rest in a small saucepan. Add the cornflour to the cup with the juice, then stir until there are no lumps. Pour it into the pan, whisking constantly. As the mix starts to boil, it will thicken. Whisk it into the cake mixture and then transfer everything to the cake tin.3 Bake for 45–50 minutes until the cake has browned and the sides have shrunk away from the tin.4 Remove the cake from the oven, but leave it in the tin. While it is still hot, juice the lime into a cup and stir in the granulated sugar...